Dylan Windler gave Perry Meridian boys basketball fans a Senior Night they won’t soon forget.
Windler, a 6-foot-7 forward who has committed to play basketball at Belmont University, torched the nets for a game-high 29 points to lead the host Falcons to an 88-67 win against Franklin on Tuesday night.
Windler scored the team’s first eight points, and by the end of the first quarter tallied 18 — including four 3-pointers — to give Perry Meridian a lopsided 25-10 lead.
What was equally impressive was Perry Meridian’s trapping zone defense that kept the Grizzly outside the perimeter most of the first half.
With the bulk of their scoring from 3-point range, the Falcons stretched their lead to 39-16.
But just as Perry Meridian began to relax a bit on defense, the Grizzly Cubs offense finally woke up with some key baskets down low by junior forward Jarrett Bertsch.
Franklin, which had won three straight, jettisoned to an 11-0 run, slicing the Falcons lead to 39-27.
Junior guard Cameron Rigley, who scored a team-high 21 points, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull Franklin within 11 points at the half.
But the Falcons (12-9) went back to work in a big way outscoring the Grizzly Cubs 22-8 in the third quarter and coasted the rest of the way.
With a little more than two minutes left in the third period and the Falcons up 58-35, Perry Meridian coach Brett Keck went to his bench leaving only one starter on the floor.
Up by the score of 63-38 to start the final period, Keck brought his starting five back and from there deliberately slowed the pace of the game during the final three minutes.
Also hitting double figures for the victorious Falcons was sophomore forward Brandon Perry with 20 points. Senior guard Jared Barker added 11.
Windler hit 9 of 16 from the field, including 5 of 7 from outside the arc. Perry hit 8 of 11 including 4 of 7 3-pointers.
Perry Meridian was 31 of 53 (.584) and 15 of 19 at the free-throw line.
Besides Rigley’s game-high 21 points for Franklin, Jarrett Bertsch had 13.
Despite the loss, Grizzly Cubs first-year coach Brad Dickey said the team has accomplished a lot this season.
“We’re really looking forward to other opportunities. Our success has been based on a couple of things. Our guards seem to understand our inside players a little bit better and our inside guys have really worked together and improved,” Dickey said.
“We’ve see a lot of promise in several kids. It’s just taken time for some of those combinations to work out. We haven’t always spoken the same language, but it feels like we’re a lot closer now.”
Franklin (9-13) will close out the regular season at Edgewood on Friday.